Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
I have to admit I’m still caught up in the excitement of last week’s launch of the new Healthy Sauces, Dressings & Toppings cookbook. (Favorites yet, anyone?) But wouldn’t you know – there’s more in the hopper. In a few short weeks I’ll be releasing The Primal Connection, the long planned sequel to The Primal Blueprint. As friends and colleagues within the ancestral movement have so generously described, The Primal Connection offers the first really new dimension in the paleo/Primal space in years. Is there any better way to start the new year – not to mention the fact that we all survived the Mayan apocalypse? In all seriousness, I’ve been pumped about this launch for months now. Like The Primal Blueprint, The Primal Connection is both a culmination and expansion of principles I’ve first introduced here on MDA. Inherent to The Primal Connection is the concept that we can use the model of our ancestors to create not just a healthier existence but also a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Simply put, there’s harmony and homeostasis to be found in congruence with our Primal roots – including those that go well beyond diet and exercise. Examining the conditions under which we evolved can shed light on why we think the way we do, why we’re satisfied (or unsatisfied) by certain living conditions, and how our modern lifestyles so often miss the boat and leave us psychologically stranded. I’ll call it the Grok principle, which begets the somewhat tongue-in-cheek but remarkably serviceable mantra – ”What Would Grok Do?”
I mean, of course, no offense to those who embrace the original religious connotation of the popular query. For better or worse, the question has gone the way of cultural meme, and it was time our Primal icon got in on the self-development action. In essence, when we live with full consciousness of fundamental truths about these human forms of ours, we’re more in control of ourselves and of our chance at health and happiness in this lifetime. Do our evolutionary patterns dictate our each and every thought, action, and reaction? (a.k.a. Hominids will be hominids.) Of course not. Make no mistake, however: they’re in on the conscious and unconscious deliberations for all of the above.
Some would argue we were little more than desperate, grunting savages before the Neolithic Revolution some 10,000 years ago (never mind that hunting and gathering continued in most parts of the world for thousands of years past the Neolithic beginnings – and still continues today). Many believe we didn’t truly become cognitively and culturally “human” until we settled down on farms. The truth is, we made our critical cognitive leaps and developed anatomically modern brains tens of thousands of years before we were plowing fields. We developed expanded social constructs, explored artistic methods, and invented cultural rituals while we were still foraging. The result: these conditions under which our modern human brains evolved continue to influence our innate expectations today.
When we look at the rising rates of stress, anxiety, and burnout, what do you think our evolutionary blueprints have to teach us about recovering a sense of emotional balance? The answer is much more than you might think. Living in congruence with basic patterns of our past doesn’t explain or remedy every problem we’ll face. We’re designed, after all, to live a full spectrum of emotional experience and witness life (and death) in raw, unfiltered form. The Grok principle, however, helps us examine our lives against the basic parameters of evolutionary conditions. It gives us perspective on what we think is big but is not, what we think is crucial but is not, what we imagine to be optional but is not. Asking ourselves what Grok would do opens our field of vision beyond the priorities of modern society and helps us hone in on the the original significance of certain emotions, on the original impetus for certain instincts or motivations, on the original social and environmental frameworks for relationships and self development.
When we acknowledge the legitimacy and limitations of these primal influences, we’re better equipped to understand our fundamental needs as well as more empowered to make fully conscious choices that fuel our personal wellbeing. The evolutionary lens can shed a revealing light on the widely diverse and confounding dimensions of this humanity of ours: what we need versus what our culture tells us we should want, what experiences are essential to actualizing our core primal potential, what lifestyle conditions tend to facilitate overall wellbeing. Why don’t 500 Facebook friends make us happy? What does city living do to us over time? Why do we feel inexplicably restless when life gets secure and predictable? It’s not just reflected in anthropological patterns. The results show in modern day studies of everything from hormonal profiles to health outcomes. In short, the Grok model offers a touchstone for daily living.
Back to the question of the day. Checking in with a “What would Grok do?” mindset can remind us of the power behind our default settings – both the vital needs and the untapped potential we often overlook in the bustle and confusion of modern living. The question can, in the thick of life, help us fully embrace or return to what really matters. It can encourage us to scrutinize our concept of thriving. It can remind us that the path to emotional as well as physical vitality is simpler and more achievable than we often think it is.
Now let me turn things over to you. In your estimation, what does it mean to play the “What Would Grok Do” game? How do you find yourself applying it in your own life? How has the general principle, if not the specific question itself, changed your life? Thanks for reading today, everyone. I’ll look forward to reading your revelations and experiences.